The Real Men in Black: Government Agents or Visitors from Beyond?

Nick Redfern
From New Dawn Special Issue 17 (Sept 2011)

Who are the “Men in Black”? In the blockbuster Hollywood movie of the same name, they were fictional characters. In real life, they are fearsome individuals who attempt to silence the witnesses of UFO and other paranormal phenomena.

In his latest book, The Real Men in Black: Evidence, Famous Cases, and True Stories of These Mysterious Men and Their Connection to the UFO Phenomena, the popular, bestselling author Nick Redfern delves deep into the strange world of these mysterious operatives. Originally from England, Nick Redfern lives in Arlington, Texas with his wife, Dana, and his website is

New Dawn magazine spoke to Nick about the Men in Black – their origins, some classic cases, previously unknown reports, secret government files, and the many theories that have been presented to explain the mystery.

NEW DAWN (ND): What prompted you to write about the Men in Black (MIB)?

NICK REDFERN (NR): In speaking to people about the MIB phenomenon, two things became clear to me. The first was that, even in the UFO research community, many people assumed that the mystery of the Men in Black was one that was mainly set in the 1950s and 1960s. In other words, many people assumed the MIB had gone away and aren’t active today. However, I had in my files cases as late as 2009. So, that was one reason to write the book – to demonstrate that the phenomenon is still very much ongoing, and not just a mystery of the past. The second reason was because many people’s views on the MIB were kind of based on the Hollywood Men in Black movies starring Will Smith and Tommy Lee Jones. The films are good fun, and entertaining. But, they only portray the MIB as agents of a secret arm of the government. The reality, however, is that most MIB are described as being far stranger than that – they sound almost alien, creepy, weird, and not even human in many respects. So, that was the other, main purpose in writing the book: to reveal that while the government secret-agent angle is certainly valid, it doesn’t tell the whole story.

ND: The Men in Black first appeared in the early 1950s, to a UFO investigator named Albert Bender. Can you tell us about his encounters with the MIB?

NR: Albert Bender was a man who, in the early 1950s, established a UFO research group – called the International Flying Saucer Bureau – in his home-town of Bridgeport, Connecticut, USA. Bender was an unusual character, who lived in the attic of his step-father’s home, and who was deeply interested in not just UFOs, but also the world of the occult, and was very knowledgeable in both areas. Bender’s IFSB attracted a huge amount of attention, and created links with UFO groups and researchers all around the world, including Australia and England. In other words, the group became very successful, very quickly. Then something strange happened: without warning Bender suddenly shut down the IFSB and quit Ufology. The rumour-mill – based on what Bender had quietly told a few friends and colleagues, albeit in a brief, enigmatic fashion – was that he had been silenced by three men in black-suits who warned him to leave UFO research, which he did until 1962 when he briefly resurfaced with his own book on the events in question, Flying Saucers and the Three Men.

ND: Gray Barker was a legendary UFO researcher and writer from the 1950s onwards who chronicled the exploits of the MIB. Can you tell us about Barker and what he uncovered?

NR: Barker was a man who, like Bender, was heavily into both UFOs and the occult, and also horror movies, gothic horror stories and things like that. So they kind of gravitated to each other and became friends. Barker was also an excellent, atmospheric writer who quickly and astutely realised there was a fascinating story to be told about Bender’s silencing by the three men, and Barker told the story in his 1956 book, They Knew Too Much about Flying Saucers. In that book, Barker relates the silencing of Bender, but alludes to the theory the MIB were from the US Government. However, in 1962, Barker – who was a publisher as well as an author – published Bender’s very own book, the aforementioned Flying Saucers and the Three Men. Bender portrays the MIB as very different from anything that might surface out of the Pentagon! In Bender’s book, the MIB come across as definitively supernatural entities. He talks about them materialising in his bedroom, along with accompanying overpowering odours of brimstone – which is a classic facet of supernatural encounters. They have weirdly glowing, or self-illuminated, eyes. And they have the ability to render Bender unconscious or place him into an altered state of mind. So, it’s very ironic that the man who arguably started the MIB mystery – which many people assume is all about government agents – actually described the MIB as nothing like CIA or FBI people. They were much, much stranger.

ND: The Men in Black turned up during the famous “Mothman” sightings at Point Pleasant, West Virginia, in the 1960s – which became the subject of the Hollywood movie, The Mothman Prophecies, starring Richard Gere. What is the story behind the Mothman‐MIB connection?

NR: The link between Mothman and the MIB is just as weird as the saga of Albert Bender a decade earlier. The Mothman Prophecies movie was based on the book of the same title written by legendary Fortean author, John Keel, and told the story of this ominous, glowing-eyed, winged creature seen in and around Point Pleasant in the mid-to-late 1960s. Despite its cartoon-style name, Mothman was a very unsettling, shadowy thing that haunted the town’s old TNT plant and hung around in the shadows, like some grim-reaper-style thing. And, on this latter point, sightings of Mothman culminated in the collapse of the town’s Silver Bridge that spanned the Ohio River, and which led to the deaths of dozens of people who were on the bridge and drowned. Some researchers saw Mothman as the cause of the disaster. But, today, more seem to take the view that Mothman is some form of warning phenomenon; that it tries to warn people of impending disaster, rather than actually causing it. And when the Mothman encounters were at their height, UFOs were buzzing about, and the Men in Black were seen roaming all around Point Pleasant, making veiled threats to Mothman witnesses and local journalists, and even plaguing people like Keel and Gray Barker, who also wrote a book on the affair called The Silver Bridge. It’s almost as if the MIB were trying to prevent people from learning the truth about both the UFO presence and the true nature of Mothman.

ND: John Keel had his own face‐to‐face encounter with the MIB. Will you tell us about that?

NR: Yes, this is an extremely bizarre story that was provided to me by the well-known author on all-things paranormal, Brad Steiger. Steiger said to me: “I’ve never put this in any of my books, and I feel a little awkward, but on the other hand, what I am about to tell you really happened.” Steiger added that Keel “…began to tell me of the visitations he’d had with three men who had not knocked, but had entered, his apartment. They literally came through the door. He told me of an evening when they were challenging him to lay off the whole Mothman thing; to lay off UFOs, if he knew what was good for him.” Well, having heard that astounding aspect of the story – which sounds astonishingly like Albert Bender’s experiences with the three MIB that materialised in his attic – you might think: could it get any stranger? Yes, it could; and it certainly does, as Steiger added to me: “John was the sort of person who responded to threats like the red flag to the bull. But, he said to me that, on this occasion, they reached under his sink and took out a jug of Clorox. They said: ‘What is this?’ and John said: ‘That’s disinfectant, it’s very powerful.’ They brought it over to him, took the cap off, and gave him a smell. John wrinkled his nose, and when they asked if it was Clorox, he said ‘Yes, that’s what it is. Now put it back before you spill it.’ Whereupon, the three of them – in front of him – put it to their lips one at a time and took large gulps of it. Now, by the time John had finished the evening, telling me stories like this, I decided that maybe I wouldn’t be quite so brave and quite so powerful. I began thinking: we’re not dealing with FBI agents or the Air Force.”

ND: Some people have suggested the MIB are government agents. Does evidence exist to support this theory?

NR: There’s absolutely no doubt at all that at least some Men in Black do originate with official agencies. For example, in the book I cite several significant cases from the 1960s – including one from England and one from the United States – where people had classic encounters of the MIB variety, with the MIB turning up in a black car, wearing black suit and hat, and making a veiled comment to the witness about not speaking publicly on their encounter. However, the significant thing is that thanks to the Freedom of Information Acts in each country, we now have the files on both events. In the English case, the documents identify the Man in Black as being attached to the British Royal Air Force’s Provost & Security Services. The P&SS get involved in cases ranging from espionage and counter-intelligence, to national security issues. In the US case, the files identify the MIB as agents of the FBI. So, clearly some cases of MIB are indeed government-originated. But these incidents are far outweighed by the weirder, Albert Bender-type encounters with the MIB.

ND: Another scenario suggests the Men in Black are aliens themselves. What do you think about that?

NR: Well, as bizarre as that may sound, the fact is that most of the Men in Black do look very, very odd, and they act equally as odd, too! For example, many of the MIB are described as only being about five-feet-tall. They have either olive-coloured skin or almost completely white-coloured skin. They have oddly shaped, and strangely spaced, eyes and are painfully thin, almost to the point of looking practically anorexic. On top of that, they don’t seem accustomed to our ways, customs and languages to the degree they should if they’re from the government. They also seem to have the ability to literally appear and disappear – and I do mean literally! This has all led to the theory that perhaps the MIB are human-alien hybrids. In other words, creatures that – with a bit of camouflage, such as pulled-down hats, large wrap-around sunglasses, turned-up trench-coat collars, and largely only surfacing at night and keeping in the shadows – look enough like us to where they can move among us, and perhaps even infiltrate us, if they’re careful about how they do it. The imagery is kind of like an underground alien army working its way into our lives, slowly and subtly, in other words.

ND: In the 1960s, a number of UFO researchers and authors actually managed to photograph the Men in Black. Can you tell us about their experiences?

NR: Yes, there are at least two cases on record where the MIB have been captured on film. The first story comes from two long-time UFO researchers/authors: Tim Green Beckley and Jim Moseley. Back in the 1960s there was a UFO investigator in Jersey City, USA named Jack Robinson. Jack was married to Mary, and in 1968 they began to experience weird activity – when they would return home at night, after maybe going out for dinner, it looked like someone had been in their apartment and had been rummaging through Jack’s UFO files. Then, during the day when she was at home, Mary started seeing a Man in Black staring up at the apartment from a ground-floor doorway in the building directly opposite them. Mary said he had an unsettling look on his face, kind of unemotional and zombie-like. Mary happened to mention this to Tim and Jim, and because the guy appeared three days in a row, they decided to drive over early one morning and see if they could see the Man in Black for themselves. Sure enough, he was there, staring ahead, with the black sunglasses, long black coat, and enigmatic stare. Tim, in the busy morning traffic, managed to get a photo of the MIB, and which he believes is one of the few authentic photos of a genuine Man in Black.

ND: In your book, you discuss a weird MIB experience reported by a notable author in London, England, in the early‐1980s. What is that story about?

NR: This is the story of Colin Bennett, who has written a number of acclaimed biographies on such people as Charles Fort and George Adamski. Back in the early 1980s, Colin had a very unusual experience in London. He was walking home late one night, and saw a UFO in the sky. Even stranger, it began to shape-shift, from a bright-light in the sky, to an old Second World War bomber, and finally to a large, black, triangular-shaped craft. He raced home to tell his girlfriend, and as he entered the apartment, there was this MIB sitting on the couch! The man had claimed to Colin’s girlfriend that he was due to meet someone who lived on the floor above, and as the person was out, asked if he could wait. Mary, Colin’s girlfriend, said yes. Although, it’s clear that as the evening progressed, the MIB was far more interested in learning about Colin’s UFO experience than he was waiting on a friend. This is made more likely by the fact that as soon as Colin finished relating the account, the MIB stood up, seemingly satisfied, and walked out into the London night, as mysteriously as he first arrived!

ND: Marie Jones is a best‐selling author of books on mysteries of this world and beyond. What is the story concerning how she was terrorised by the MIB?

NR: Marie is a respected author and a very credible one, too. In the mid-1990s she was deeply involved in alien abduction research, which seems to have led her to be targeted by the Men in Black. She allowed me to interview her for the book, and told me some very disturbing things, such as how the MIB would make intimidating phone-calls to her home, even telling her what she was wearing, and what book was on the bedside table. It disturbed her to such an extent that she walked away from the abduction phenomenon, which may very well have been the goal of the MIB.

ND: Will you discuss the theories of paranormal author Joshua P. Warren, who has speculated that the Men in Black may be time‐travellers from our very own future?

NR: This is a very intriguing theory. Granted, it’s speculative to a degree. But Josh asks the question: why are the MIB always seen in old-style clothes? Why, even in the 1980s, 1990s and 2000s do they always wear the 1940s/1950s-type Fedora hats and skinny black ties? Why do they drive old-style black cars? In other words, everything about the MIB seems to be out of time. Josh speculates that perhaps the MIB are, in simple terms, time-cops, whose role it is to guard the timelines, to prevent time-paradoxes from occurring, and to ensure that the past, present and future don’t fall into disarray. It’s a fascinating scenario to think about.

ND: What surprised you most while you were researching the book?

NR: That’s an easy one: it was without doubt the fact that MIB encounters are occurring on a scale that easily parallels – if not even exceeds – the number of reports from the 50s and 60s. Even I was amazed at how active the MIB still are.

ND: What is your personal opinion on who the Men in Black are?

NR: My personal conclusion is that there are at least two things going on. There are the government-originated MIB, and there are the weirder MIB. As for the former, I prove in the book that some can be traced back to official agencies of at least several governments. As for those stranger MIB, my personal view is that they are paranormal. Of course, much of this depends on how we define the paranormal! My personal view is that the MIB may be the inhabitants of multi-dimensions or extra-dimensions that co-exist with ours, and whose role it is to keep us away from the truth about not just UFOs, but a whole range of strange phenomena too. But as for why, that is the big question still eluding us!

ND: What do you hope the publication of your new book, The Real Men in Black, will achieve?

NR: I hope it will help people to realise that the MIB mystery is very much an ongoing one, that the MIB are not just the stuff of Hollywood fiction, fantasy or hoaxing, and that they are a very real, menacing and disturbing phenomenon not to be treated lightly. In fact, I have already received dozens of new reports since publication of the book.

This article was published in New Dawn Special Issue 17.
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